Workplace wellness is important for retention says Cigna survey

Patrick Graham, Chief Executive Officer for Asia Pacific, Cigna

The 2017 Cigna 360° Well-being Survey reveals that workplace health benefits are a critical factor for employees, and use of digital healthcare technology and data sharing is rising.

Cigna’s chief executive officer for Asia Pacific, Patrick Graham noted that respondents from Asia Pacific lament the inadequacy of workplace insurance provided by employers despite the willingness of employees to use digital technology and, importantly, share personal data to improve their healthcare and health awareness, especially if it lowers costs.

The survey reveals an overall decline in employee perception about their well-being. Only respondents from with only markets like India, Taiwan, and Thailand feeling generally more positive about themselves and their future.

Figure 1: Not feeling about their well-being

Not feeling about their well-being

Source: 2017 Cigna 360o well-being survey

In an exclusive interview with Fintech Innovation, Graham discusses the implications of the survey to employers, including lessons learned from forward-thinking employers that invest in wellness programs to enhance employee retention, improve workforce productivity, and reduce cost. He shares the aspirations of millennials when it comes to employment benefits and preferences.

Employers don’t care enough?

When asked what benefits they considered basic for healthcare coverage and compare this with benefits received from employers, respondents identified a negative gap for general practitioner consulting fees, hospitalization benefits and annual health check-ups. Close to 20% of respondents had not taken a health check in the last 12 months. Only a third sought professional help when ill, with most relying on self-diagnoses and treatment.

Although respondents showed a much-improved sense of physical well-being only 50% are exercising regularly, according to the research.

What employees say is important to them

The study showed that workplace wellness programs were not yet a major reason to select an employer, but were frequently cited as a reason to stay with an employer.

“Their importance as a retention tool was higher for the 18 to 39-year-old segment. Good healthcare coverage benefits were rated highly by all respondents in the survey as a draw to new employers,” said Graham.

Most respondents currently use, or plan to use health apps in the coming year and 46% expressed willingness to share personal health data with a larger community for the good of all, especially with doctors, a national health database and global bodies such as the World Health Organization. A third were happy to share data with insurance companies.

Figure 2: Open to sharing personal data (with a catch)

Open to sharing personal data (with a catch)

Source: 2017 Cigna 360o well-being survey

Beside data security, transparency is a major barrier to adoption of apps. Respondents expressed privacy concerns and worry about how and where data might be used, with 55% citing unauthorized data access as a concern.

Graham cautioned that companies who generate and share data will need to establish proper safeguards and protocols to protect access and use to maintain patient trust.

Eighty-two percent of respondents believe the usage of digital technology in the healthcare space has the potential to bring good health to more people and 55% would be happy to use a robotic doctor if the cost is much lower than a human doctor. One in five is ready to use eCheckups.

For its part, Graham confirmed that continues to invest in digital technology to improve consumer experience, including areas like simplifying the buying and claims process. He also confirmed the imminent launch of another new health app later this year which will bring healthcare advice and wellness data globally.

This is the third annual research study from the global health services company, which provides a wide range of employer, individual and supplemental health benefit products and services. The survey monitors and tracks the annual evolution of key emotional and psychological well-being indicators across 13 markets. The well-being scores are calculated based on five weighted pillars - physical, financial, work health, family health and social health.